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Numismatists Do Not Fear Change

Portrait of Britain 5 Pound Coins and Sherlock Holmes

Portrait of Britain 5 Pound Coins and Sherlock Holmes

“Have you dragged the basin of the Trafalgar Square fountain?”

The Adventure of The Noble Bachelor (NOBL)

Portrait of Britain 2014 - Buckingham PalaceIn 2014, the British Royal Mint issued a 4 coin set called Portrait of Britain honoring four historical sites – Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben. These £5 coins are .925 sterling silver and measures 38.6 mm with a weight of 28.28 grams. Only 5,000 coins of each design were struck

From the Royal Mint’s press release:

Two of The Royal Mint’s talented engravers, Laura Clancy and Glyn Davies, have captured these familiar sights with a new perspective. Their designs have an impressionistic feel, depicting the icons through the eyes of the visitor, obscured by the everyday – weather, crowds or location. These stunning silver Proof coins have been colour-printed using trichromatic techniques to enhance the designs, highlighting wet-weather scenes or adding the touch of sunshine to a statue.

…. Yet Laura Clancy and Glyn Davies have breathed new life into the tradition with their impressionist designs, depicting these familiar icons in a new perspective. These stunning designs lend themselves to colour-printing, which has further enhanced the contemporary feel, as Laura Clancy explains,

“We wanted to achieve something quite different to things that had been done before. We modelled in clay rather than the more traditional plaster – this softer material allowed us to create a more fluid model, more like a sketch than a photo, but in 3D. At The Royal Mint, we hand work all our master tools, but for these tools we added texture, something that would add to the sense of mood and the feeling of weather. Finally, once the coins were struck, colour was added.  The British Icons coins are not a literal representation but express the transient effects of light and colour on a location.  Throughout the process, we have been aiming for an impression of the subject, a moment in time – the modelling to convey the place, the colour and treatment of the metal to convey time and mood.”

Buckingham Palace, featured on the first coin, is never mentioned in the 60 stories of The Canon. In the season 2 episode, A Scandal in Belgravia, of BBC’s Sherlock, we have an aerial shot of Buckingham Palace as John Watson is helicoptered in.  Inside, Sherlock and Watson meet with Mycroft to discuss a case for an illustrious client.

Image result for a scandal in belgravia buckingham palace

Portrait of Britain 2014 - Tower BridgeOur second design, Tower Bridge, is also not mentioned in The Canon, although there are references to London Bridge.  It is interesting to note that nearly half of the stories in The Canon are believed to take place after the Tower Bridge has opened. However, Tower Bridge does make an appearance in Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective and features heavily in the closing scenes of the first Robert Downey, Jr. film, Sherlock Holmes.

Great Mouse Detective Tower Bridge Downey Law Tower BridgePortrait of Britain 2014 - Trafalgar SquareTrafalgar Square, our third design, has two mentions in The Canon. In The Noble Bachelor, Holmes asks Inspector Lestrade, ‘Have you dragged the basin of the Trafalgar Square fountain?’ after learning that the Serpentine was being dragged in searching for Hattie Doran. In Hound of the Baskervilles, we know that Stapleton hailed the hansom of John Clayton in the Square.

Sherlock Trafalgar Square

Sherlock Nelson Column






In BBC’s Sherlock, Sherlock and Watson are seen walking in Trafalgar Square in The Blind Banker episode of season 1.  In Season 2’s The Reichenbach Fall, the reflection of the square’s Nelson column can be seen in the reflection of the taxi window as they drive by.

Elementary Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square also made an appearance in the season 2 premiere episode of Elementary, where Holmes and Joan Watson are sending a message via the surveillance cameras.
Portrait of Britain 2014 - Big BenIn Lady Frances Carfax, Dr. Watson writes that “it was twenty-five to eight as we passed Big Ben,” as they raced to prevent the funeral. Now, Big Ben is the name of the bell located in the Clock Tower of the House of Parliament.

Great Mouse Detective Big BenBig Ben makes an appearance above in The Great Mouse Detective and also in the Jeremy Brett Granada series below.

Jeremy Brett Big Ben

Game of Shaows Big Ben

While Big Ben features prominently in the advertising for the second Downey film, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the House of Parliament was the scene of Lord Blackwood’s coup attempt in the first film.
Sherlock Big BenJim Moriarty, standing outside of Big Ben, receives a text message from Irene Adler in the A Scandal in Belgravia episode of Sherlock.  The House of Parliament is also featured prominently in The Empty Hearse episode of season 3.

2015 100 Pound coinOn December 29, the Royal Mint announced its first £100 coin, featuring a design almost identical to the £5 Big Ben coin.  Containing 2 ounces of .999 silver, the coin is being sold at it’s face value. This is the third silver coin issued by the Royal Mint in a program meant to make precious metals available at their face value, capturing potential interest from nontraditional collectors and collectors alike. Less than 3 weeks into 2015, the coin sold out its 50,000 mintage. The coin measures 40 mm and weighs 62.86 grams.

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